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Penn State Football All 105

Penn State All 105: KJ Winston Poised for Big Things in Year 3

Kevin Winston Jr. celebrates his third quarter fumble recovery with teammates Abdul Carter, Adisa Isaac, and Keaton Ellis.

Since Anthony Poindexter took over as Penn State football’s safeties coach ahead of the 2021 season, the program’s been churning out NFL-quality talent at the position.

Jaquan Brisker only played one of his three seasons at PSU under Poindexter, but it was his best one.

Brisker became an All-American and went to the Bears in the second round of the 2022 Draft.

The next Draft, Ji’Ayir Brown went in the third round to the 49ers, and ended up having an interception in the Super Bowl.

KJ Winston could well be next in line, and he’s the subject of NSN’s latest edition of All 105, a series profiling each Penn State football player.

Before Penn State: Born Kevin Winston Jr, the Penn State Class of 2022 signee played at the legendary DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland.

It’s a high school that has helped past Penn State players, such as Cameron Wake, and is also where current Penn State defensive tackle Coziah Izzard played.

At DeMatha, Winston— also a track runner in high school— lettered all four years became a two-time team captain and team MVP.

In his senior season, Winston picked up 50 tackles, intercepted three passes, broke up 10 and recovered a fumble which he subsequently ran in for a touchdown.

His performance as a senior earned him Maryland High School Player of the Year Honors from the DC Touchdown Club.

247Sports, Rivals and On3 all had Winston as a four-star prospect, and ESPN had him as a three-star. 247, Rivals and On3 also had Winston as a top five player overall player in Maryland from his class, and ESPN ranked him 15th.

He committed to Penn State on the last day of July 2021, choosing coach James Franklin’s program over fellow Big Ten schools Maryland and Michigan State, among others.

2022: Winston burned his redshirt, playing in 12 of Penn State’s 13 games, picking up 16 tackles (11 solo) and a tackle for loss.

Last year: Winston became a starter for Penn State and quickly developed into one of the team’s more important defensive players. He started all 13 games and led the team with 60 tackles, also recovering a pair of fumbles, picking off a pass against Rutgers and breaking up five more during the season. Winston’s efforts led to him becoming a unanimous All-Big Ten honorable mention selection. Pro Football Focus felt Winston was one of the best safeties in the country, grading him at 89.2. Only three safeties rated higher in 2023.

Where he stands: Winston’s proven he can play in the Big Ten over the past two seasons. Now, the question is how good he can get. If Winston’s a better version of what he was in 2022, there’s no reason he can’t be one of the top safeties in the country and earn All-America honors. If that happens, he could well end up with a big NFL payday in 2025.

A quote from Winston: 

“Over the season, first game, I didn’t really know how things would come at me. But I learned from each game and as the season went on, I figured things out a little bit. I understood the game a little better, what teams were going to do to me. It allowed me to play faster.” — Winston at Penn State’s bowl media day in State College last December via Bob Flounders of PennLive.

A quote about Winston:

“Early on in the season, he was trying to find his footing, being a first-time starter. But each week, you could just see his game growing and growing and growing. I’m proud of how he just continued to get better all year. That’s what you hope for as a coach. You could see each week, he got more and more comfortable just being in the game, making the calls in the game, then he started making the plays in the game. He really did a nice job.” — Penn State safeties coach Anthony Poindexter on Winston at bowl media day.

More All 105s

LB Dom DeLuca: Agent Zero

Jaylen Reed Could Be PSU’s ’Lion’ 

Liam Clifford Looking to Flourish in new Offense

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